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  • Writer's pictureFiona Holiday

Trauma and Resilience

It feels as if trauma is all around us at the moment. Recent events have traumatised individuals, communities and the country as a whole.

But what does it mean to be "traumatised"? Like so many words, it has entered our everyday speech as a description of when we are a little perturbed by something. But when people experience trauma, they are experiencing something which overwhelms their ability to cope, they feel out of control of the situation and powerless to respond.

When we are adults, this could describe easily recognisable, life-threatening situations. When we are children, it can be any experience which triggers that response. Our brains and repertoire of responses have so much less experience and growth to draw upon.

The impact of experiencing trauma is significant. We have probably all heard of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), but how many of us know about the impact of trauma on the developing brain? The belief that children are resilient and bounce back from adversity is common, but what if what REALLY happens is that their brains develop to accommodate the stress and adapt to keep them safe?

There is a definition of resilience, which sees it not as a fixed trait, but as something which grows out of connection - resilience in families, schools, communities, countries. Something that WE create through our ability to really see one another, hear one another, be kind, show compassion.

So for me, there are two steps which we MUST take to build a resilient society, before we can move forward. First, we need to understand the biology of stress and the impact on humans (both fully grown and from conception). Secondly, we need to understand how to respond to this in our communities and services. There is so much evidence that this is the way to go, we just need to listen to it.

If you want to know more, try and get along to a screening of the film 'Resilience'. We are showing it in Derby on Tuesday this week but there are and will be other opportunities. This is just the start of the conversation. Join in - we are the people who can make a difference.

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